• Tom Lombardo

Essentials for Effective Meetings

Throughout all of history, the most successful leaders used effective meetings to build community. The people at the meeting need to see themselves as a team, and that starts with a sense of community.

Having lots and lots of meetings works against this goal. Effective meetings are held seldom, but regularly. They should all have the same basic structure, which means they should all have the same agenda. And for the meeting's agenda to really work, it should should focus on follow-up.


When each meeting builds upon the last, progress is easy to track, success is celebrated, and shortcomings can be quickly identified and addressed. Meeting productivity software can help tremendously.


Meeting Structure Must Be Purposeful


Structure helps build community, if it’s done right. Repeating the same agenda makes it much easier for participants to anticipate what is required of them at the meeting, and it keeps the meeting focused, so no one feels that their time is being wasted.


Meeting agendas that build community include time for participants to be recognized as people. Their humanity, at work and outside of it, should be brought into the meeting. That way, they can embrace their teammates on a more personal level, and they can express themselves more freely and honestly.


The best meeting agendas also make sure that every person at the meeting is heard. It's crucial that dominant personalities do not dominate the time spent together, and it's crucial that quiet, introspective people are given the floor so their value to the team can be made clear to all.


This is crucial. The best way to accomplish it is to enable everyone to input their notes before the meeting begins. That way, as you go through the meeting's agenda, each participant knows that their turn is coming, and each is prepared. When everyone’s attention turns to them, they can jump into a substantive report. They don’t have to be extroverts to be heard; they will be heard no matter what.


A community with that foundation can accomplish great things.


Meetings Prep Must Be Time Efficient


Every participant attending the meeting should know what the purpose of the meeting is. Without purpose, there's no direction.


Each needs to know their role, and each role should be broken down into weekly or daily tasks. A great meeting respects the fact that each participant works in a different platform. Marketing is in HubSpot, Sales is in Salesforce, Project Management is in Trello, and so on.


But, obviously, expecting attendees to pre-populate their notes in your meeting productivity software by copying a bunch of data from those applications won't work. It's much better to just let them share their app with the whole team, so everyone can see where they are in their own environment. It's more respectful this way, and it's much, much easier for participants to give a substantive update.


Meetings Are For Follow-Up


To make sure progress is always being made, the best meetings focus on follow-up for a good portion of the agenda.


Everyone present knows what every other participant agreed to accomplish since the last meeting. They know that they will give their own report, too. That way, the entire meeting is focused on progress.


A meeting agenda that accomplishes all of this makes it easy for each participant to see how everyone's efforts fit together. The meeting's purpose becomes clear, and that way, the time in the meeting is much more productive.


Meetings Are for Problem Solving


Community creates expectations, both personal and professional. Participants know what is expected of them, and they know what they committed to at the last meeting. They don't want to let anyone down, and they want to live up to everyone's expectations.


Community also creates a safe space, so if they fall short or if they encounter obstacles, these problems can be solved openly and effectively.


Meetings Are for Celebrating Successes


Knowing that they are in a community like that helps people perform more effectively. You will find that meetings run in this manner will ultimately produce mostly success stories and substantive discussions about how to expand upon them.


The easiest way to implement meetings like this is to use a platform that’s optimized for it. The MeetingZen meeting productivity platform is based on two decades of experience in both consulting and software development.


MeetingZen can transform your meetings into profit centers, literally earning a return on the time you spend in them.


Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash